Culture / Food & Drinks

My take on the Malaysia vs Singapore food fight

Spent the better part of this morning’s 40-min commute to my office reading about Malaysia vs Singapore’s food fight.

A recent international survey said that Singapore’s hawker food is better than Malaysia’s Penang food. Well, maybe it’s true. Or maybe it’s not because I do agree with the Penang minister that Singapore can market itself well. Too well, if you have seen the stuff I’ve seen. But, that’s not related to this post.

Personally, I’ve had many bad food experiences here. You can’t find many places with good Assam laksa. Even the commonplace sambal belacan, I’ve yet to have a memorable experience eating a good one here. And, most recently, no, I mean very recently, I’ve tasted the worst Thai food I’ve ever had. I won’t name names, but that restaurant was quite popular. I saw about a dozen people  queuing up to eat there too. Wow, that was very strange. The food was really really bad. The sweet and sour fish was more sweet than sour, the fish was not fresh, and they put cocktail lychee and gingko into the dish. Yes, that’s right, lychee and gingko.

Ah, a consolation: My Mom did say the dim sum somewhere in Orchard was good. Unfortunately, I’m not a dim sum fan.

I do think this food fight will forever be an ongoing debate, not only because citizens of both countries will continue to be biased towards their respective countries, but also because it’s a question of your favorite flavor. Do you prefer sweet or sour food? There are no right answers, just differing personal preferences.

For me, I love sour food. That’s severely lacking here, whereas in Malaysia where we are heavily influenced by Indonesian, Thai and Malay cultures, we can get an assortment of sour food. Java mee, Assam laksa, great mango kerabus…

To my friends from the other side of the fence, I send out a challenge. Tell me a good place to eat here (preferably below $25/pax). Hint: Give me something sour and I might reconsider. Sweet food can be quite sickly after a prolonged time (and I know how people in this country love their sweet food).

Come to think of it, I guess this is why I lose my appetite when I’m here. Sweet food closes off your appetite while sour food opens it. Another thing that I don’t like: Queuing for half an hour to eat.


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